Coping exists on a range, from seeing a therapist (sophisticated coping) to displacing your rage onto a random driver in traffic after a hard day at work (primitive coping). Smoking, in our assessment, is somewhere in between.

In his 2007 article, “One Last Cigarette Before the Firing Squad? Certainly Not!” Paul Johnson, a columnist for the Spectator, writes: “I suspect smoking is one of those indulgences which, bad in themselves, prevent human beings from doing worse.”

Exactly so. Indeed, you could do a lot worse than to cope by smoking tobacco. Face it: as a smoker, you’ve found a self-sufficient way to regulate how you feel. You get burned; you light up. Burned again? Light up again. It works well enough, or you wouldn’t be doing it.

Can you do better than that? Of course, you can! Should you feel bad about the coping you’ve done so far? Absolutely not; you’ve done the best you could, and that’s something to acknowledge and celebrate. Your smoking was and is a partial coping success, not a coping failure.

Time to build on that by broadening your coping repertoire.  That is, if you are ready.

Related resources:

An Unofficial Apology to Smokers

15 Strategies for Mindful Smoking

Helping the Smoker in Your Life

Cigarettes photo available from Shutterstock.



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    Last reviewed: 2 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2012). Smoking Isn’t the Worst Coping Option. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from


Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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